Saturday, August 9, 2008

Much ado about Ghana Telecom sale

I like Ghana when it comes to nationalism. I am yet to see any other African as patriotic as the Ghanaian. He loves his country and is passionate about it. You only need to take a casual drive across Accra to find this out. The Ghanaian flag is a treasure that the average citizen doesn't joke with. He hangs it on his car. Makes clothes, and all kinds of wears with it and is always proud to defend it anywhere, anytime.
Most other Africans who visit Ghana attest to the people's love for their country and by extension Africa in addition to their unique sense of hospitality. I am told that this spirit draws from the days of the freedom struggle. Dr Kwame Nkrumah is one of a foremost pan-Africanist and he wasn't apologetic about it. He sounded it a couple of times in his speeches that 'the African is capable of governing himself'. He believed in Africa and made the average Ghanaian to think likewise.
The continent might not have joined the league of developed nations, but it's surely on its way. Ghana is a typical example of an African country on the path to greatness. Significant progress has been made in the last decade at consolidating democracy, political stability and economic progress. I am one of those who believe that come December 2008, Ghana will score yet another point on its success journey - a peaceful presidential election and smooth transition to another democratically elected president.
All said, I am however put off by the opposition that has greeted the sale of Ghana Telecom.
Government ownership of commercial enterprises all over the world is increasingly becoming old-fashioned. What is the use keeping in the hand of government an enterprise that only incures debts. Given the competitive telecom market it operates, I think the decision to sale GT makes sense. The real issue should be transparency in the deal. With a debt of over $400 million, it is obvious GT is not healthy.
I believe what is best for it now is to have it taken over by a competent private operator who will bring in the needed technology and expertise to turn things around. Vodafone's $900 million might not be a fair deal for some, but to continue 'business as usual' is certainly not a wise choice. As parliament considers the issue next week, I sincerely hope that reasonableness will prevail and not politics and undue sentiments. GT certainly needs an overhaul and privatisation is one way to facilitate that overhaul.
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